All Hail .Con!

Feature written by Rita Rong on Sunday, February 17, 2002

from the best-thing-since-sliced-pizza dept.

William Henry Gates arrived on this planet in 1955. Whether you love him or merely just like him, there is no denying the contribution Bill has made to this entire Universe. Without Microsoft, we wouldn't have personal computers. We would still be using slide rules and typewriters. And without Microsoft, ".Con" would be just another meaningless acronym.

Bill Gates has already changed the face of the world as we know it, but his magnum opus has yet to be fully appreciated. On Wednesday, three years behind schedule, Microsoft unveiled Bill's greater masterpiece -- in the guise of the Visual Workshop.Con development tools suite.

Visual Workshop.Con is going to change the world -- no doubt about it -- so it's time to suck it up and jump on the bandwagon. Recent press releases by Microsoft say so. And if you can't believe a press release from the world's most successful business, what can you believe?

Most of all, .Con is a vision, a vision of a brand new innovative programming paradigm with the elegant name of "LOOP". That's Lawyer-Oriented Object Programming.

Let's face it: today's software sucks. Developers don't invest as much as they could because they know some pimply-faced 14 year old is going to pirate their creation and sell it on eBay for two bucks. Meanwhile, users have free reign to tinker, mangle, abuse, and totally screw up their software, providing an unlimited stream of headaches for developers and tech support workers.

Microsoft wants this insanity to end. Software, in Bill's grand vision, will no longer suck. It won't be possible to copy it illegally, thus giving the incentive to developers to produce a program that doesn't crash every ten minutes. And users will have only limited control over their software, preventing them from doing stupid things and therefore enabling developers to develop their software instead of wasting their time providing tech support to clueless idiots.

The .Con paradigm is extremely simple: every class, every module, every line of code will have a "Microsoft Online Object License Agreement" (MOOLA) attached. This is a legal contract between the object and the outside world. It specifies the precise conditions under which the object can be used. Here's an example class created in Microsoft's new C-- language:

 class HelloWorld {  license_agreement:   copyright = "(C) 2002 Microsoft Corp.";   open_source = of_course_not;   license_fee = "US$0.001/billion CPU cycles";   all_rights_reserved = true;       disclaim_all_liability = true;   reserve_right_to_change_terms = of_course;   patent_pending = true;   system_requirements = "WinXP or better";   self_destruct_when = { "license breached,     "user accesses private data elements",     "user modifies object executable file" };   instances_allowed_at_one_time = 1;   maximum_lifespan_of_class = "1 year";   registration_required = true;   registration_host = "reg126.microsoft.com";   violations_host = "msfbi.microsoft.com"   blame_user_for = { "logic errors",     "syntax errors", "intermittent issues" }; } 

This LOOP-compliant class encapsulates a legally-binding contract requiring the user to obey certain requirements. For instance, the user must fork over $0.001 for every billion CPU cycles this object executes. Moreover, the user (and any programs the user writes) may only invoke one instance of this class at a time.

If the user violates this MOOLA, the object is empowered to execute a "DEL HelloWorld.*" command, but not before reporting the violation to Microsoft via the new BLACKLIST.Con protocol. (If the user racks up more than three violations, all of their licenses are temporarily revoked for 30 days.)

The Visual Workshop.Con interface will allow developers to easily create, define, and enforce their own MOOLAs. Of course, .Con is a cross-platform environment (it supports Windows 98, Windows ME, Windows 2000, and Windows XP) and a cross-language paradigm (it supports Microsoft C--, Microsoft CheapJavaKnockoff, and Microsoft Visual Ada).

Now that it's finally available, Visual Workshop.Con will usher in a new age of productivity and standardization, the likes of which has only previously been imagined by science fiction and horror writers. Every facet of our lives will be embraced; we will no longer be slaves to inferior software.

The results of .Con's deployment will be an increased level of freedom, with the machines finally realizing their true potential as information processors -- just as long as you don't try to copy, mangle, manipulate, reverse-engineer, re-compile, alter, configure, hack, crack, break-into, modify, unbundle, or customize your software or violate the terms of the thousands of MOOLAs you will be bound by.

As developers move to embrace .Con, the Internet will be transformed from an anarchistic labyrinth of Communist symphathizers and long-haired hippie freaks into an ordered, standardized, controlled community having the utmost respect for the rule of law and the realization that copyrights and patents are the only things that bring about real innovation and software quality.

.Con marks the dawn of the third age of computing -- embrace it. In doing so, you will allow Microsoft to embrace and extend your life into a new realm of possibilities.


Rita Rong is a software consultant and the author of numerous books in the popular "...For Complete Idiots" series. She is currently working on a "non-fiction" work for Microsoft Press entitled "Jesus, Gutenberg, Babbage, Ballmer, and Gates: The Five Greatest People in the History of Mankind". When not shilling for Microsoft, Rita enjoys playing "Monopoly" and filing lawsuits against miscreants that quote her books without first obtaining express written permission.

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